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Italian Wines, or More Specifically, Gavi

I had the most wonderful meal at a new Italian restaurant.  Finally!  There is a world-class Italian restaurant in this town.  I was really beginning to think I was going to have to make do with the Olive Garden.

By chance, I got to sit down and have a conversation with the Italian-born owner, Dario, prior to my meal there.

He was ebullient and engaging.  He asked me my history and was happy to talk to another person who had lived in Los Angeles.  He did his education at UCLA.

Then he asked me about my “passion for Italian wines.”  I paused.  I’ve been working in the California wine industry for long enough that I’ve almost ignored the rest of the world.  How unfortunate!  I smiled and explained how laser focused I’ve been in the last few years.  That said, I have always adored Italian wine, especially Prosecco, Dolcetto, and all things Sangiovese.

He asked me what I thought of his wine list.  I commented on the Super Tuscan and an Amarone on his list.  Then I said I would like to see a Gavi on there.  He explained how difficult Gavi is to sell because no one knows what it is.

So, let’s talk about Gavi. Are you ready to get a little wine nerdy?  Here we go!

Gavi is a wine from the Piedmont area, in Northern Italy.  This is the same area known for Barolo, Barbaresco, and yes, it is also known for Asti Spumante, admittedly my favorite sparkler when I was in my early 20s because it’s on the sweeter side.

Gavi is made from the Cortese grape.  I like to think of Cortese as an Italian Chardonnay.  It tends to be a little lighter, but can manipulated with oak or made into a sparkling wine, like Chardonnay.  It goes well with robust, red sauced, Italian food.

Gavi won’t break the bank.  I found several nice ones at my local wine store between $10 and $12.

I realized the last time I had a Gavi was when I was studying for a wine exam.  So, l thought I would try one and share it with you.

I selected a 2014 vintage Stefano Massone Masera Gavi.  It is DOCG rated, or Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita – the highest classification for wine in Italy.  At 12% alcohol, it is easier to drink than most California wines, which average around 13% to 15% alcohol.

The color is so pale, it’s almost clear, with a just the slightest hue of straw.  The nose on the Gavi is bright, with bold aromas of citrus, apple and slight hint of vanilla.  Light flavors of green apple, melon, lemon and slate finish the wine.  It has great acidity.  It even left some fizziness on my tongue.  Sometimes this happens in crisper white wines due to the fermentation, and I love that effervescent feeling when it does!

This Gavi is beautiful.  I tend to like big, full-flavored wines, but this Gavi is nice and light without being boring.  I would pair this with an aged gouda, salty meats like salami or coppa or a creamy pasta.  It would also go well with salmon and leafy greens.

So, there you have it!  Don’t be afraid to grab a Gavi the next time you’re looking for a bottle or invited to a friend’s house for dinner.  You might find a new favorite!

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